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Zodiak Television Group Acquires Yellow Bird

The Zodiak Television Group has announced the acquisition of film and TV production company Yellow Bird, further strengthening its position as one of Europe’s leading producers of drama programming.
Presently owned by Ole Søndberg, Henning Mankell and Lars Björkman, Yellow Bird produces drama for TV and theatrical releases, often based upon bestselling books or original scripts for different outlets such as TV, DVD and video-on-demand all of which are sold to broadcasters throughout the world. Recent successes include sales to M6 France, Mediaset Italy and ARD in Germany.
The company also has an exclusive agreement with the best-selling author and joint owner Henning Mankell and during 2005 and 2006 completed thirteen movies based on his famous character Kurt Wallander, with a total budget of more than 21 million Euros. Mankell’s novels are massive international hits and have been translated into 36 languages. Worldwide, Mankell has sold 25 million novels. In Germany Mankell outsells Harry Potter and is the biggest-selling author since the Second World War.
urrent Yellow Bird productions include six movies based upon Helene Tursten’s novels featuring criminal inspector Irene Huss. Co-produced with Illusion Film the first movie has a planned release for spring 2008 and all will be broadcast on Kanal 5 (SBS). Yellow Bird is also underway with an adaptation for the screen of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium trilogy, which will be produced for the Swedish public broadcaster SVT, and the international market.
"I am very impressed by Yellow Bird’s way of working and am proud to welcome them into the Zodiak family," said CEO Patrick Svensk.
"The acquisition is a part of our strategy and ambition to successfully produce drama in all of the Group territories as well as the goal to strengthen our library of rights."
"It is expensive to produce film. Merging with Zodiak gives Yellow Bird a considerably stronger financial backbone. Zodiak’s strong finance will enable us to have a more artistic freedom and give us the chance to go into more ventures and projects that we might have had to say no to otherwise. Among other things I hope that this will enable us to tie new, talented script writers and directors to the company," commented Henning Mankell."
Jarowskij’s drama department will be integrated with Yellow Bird, creating one of the most durable companies in the Nordic countries with critical mass, a large number of customers and a widespread network. Jan Zachrisson, Executive Producer and Head of Drama Development in the Zodiak Television Group will also work as an Executive Producer at Yellow Bird. Ole Søndberg continues to be Creative Chief and in charge of daily operations.
Mikael Wallen, currently MD for MTV Mastiff, Sweden will become MD for Yellow Bird on the 1 April.
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